The Hurricane

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Details At A Glance

Category Drama Theatrical Trailer(s) Yes, 1 - 1.85:1 (16x9), Dolby Digital 2.0 , 320Kb/s)
Rating m.gif (1166 bytes) Other Trailer(s) Yes, 1 - Dolby Digital Rain
Year Released 1999 Commentary Tracks Yes, 1 - Norman Jewison (Director)
Running Time 139:33 Minutes Other Extras Main Menu Audio & Animation
Scene Selection Audio & Animation
Deleted Scenes with Director's Introductions (1.78:1, 16x9, Dolby Digital 2.0, 320Kb/s)
Featurette - Spotlight On Location (1.78:1, 16x9, Dolby Digital 2.0, 320Kb/s)
Production Notes: A Chronology: The Rubin "Hurricane" Carter Case
Cast & Crew Biographies
RSDL/Flipper RSDL (80:08)
Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region 4 Director Norman Jewison
Beacon Pictures
Roadshow Home Entertainment
Starring Denzel Washington
John Hannah
Deborah Kara Unger
Case Transparent Amaray
RPI $34.95 Music Christopher Young
Pan & Scan/Full Frame None MPEG None
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 1.81:1 (Measured) Dolby Digital 5.1
16x9 Enhancement
16x9Yes.jpg (4536 bytes)
Soundtrack Languages English (Dolby Digital 5.1, 448 Kb/s)
English (Dolby Digital 2.0 , 256 Kb/s)
English Audio Commentary (Dolby Digital 2.0 , 256 Kb/s)
Theatrical Aspect Ratio ?1.85:1
Macrovision Yes Smoking Yes
Subtitles English for the Hearing Impaired Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

Plot Synopsis

    Like Sleepy Hollow and American History X, The Hurricane is another Roadshow Home Entertainment film that I thought a great deal about seeing at the theatre, and never got around to. Having seen it for the first time on DVD, I think this is the sort of film that I would heartily recommend renting for an evening's entertainment, but I would not return to it in a hurry. Those who view this film with the expectation of a film about boxing are going to be disappointed, as there is less than twenty minutes of actual boxing in the entire film.

    The Hurricane is based upon the life story of Rubin Carter (Denzel Washington), who spent two decades of his life in prison for a crime that he maintains he didn't commit. His actual guilt or innocence is secondary to the fact that he was unjustly convicted, as this film shows in great detail. The problem is that I found it strangely difficult to connect with the characters, with almost all of the performances falling flat. Perhaps others will find this film more compelling, but I find myself hard-pressed to recommend that it be afforded a permanent place in anyone's collection.

Transfer Quality

    Before I say anything else about this DVD, I'd like to direct your attention to the case description, which finally says something other than a comment about the appalling button cases. This DVD arrived packaged in a transparent Amaray case, which may not be the perfect fit for Roadshow Home Entertainment slicks, but is far preferable to the button and Brackley cases in this instance. Since I've been constantly nagging Roadshow Home Entertainment about both the size of their slicks and the cases they use, I feel it is only fair that I commend them for doing the right thing in this instance and express my hopes that they keep it up.


    After viewing the great transfers afforded to the last two Roadshow Home Entertainment titles I have viewed, I am pleased to say that the winning streak continues without a break for the time being. The video transfer is presented in an aspect ratio of 1.81:1 (measured), and is 16x9 enhanced.

    The transfer is exceptionally sharp and clear at all times, at least within the intentions of the director, who obviously didn't want the scenes in the prison or similar environments to be particularly bright or happy looking. The shadow detail is very good, but there are also some limits placed upon it by what appear to be the intentions of the director. However, everything that the director intended for the viewer to see is readily apparent in the final picture. There was no low-level noise apparent in the shadows, which makes me pity those who attempt to view this film on VHS.

    The colour saturation can be described as vibrant, even in the drab environment of the prison. The negatives were obviously made to squeeze every ounce of colour out of the shots, and the transfer is very reflective of this. This is in spite of the authenticity of the props, most of which are from eras where bad colour co-ordination and dull saturation was something of a fashion statement. The boxing matches in this film, which are very brief and exist only for plot movement, are in monochrome. These are well saturated, with everything being easy to make out in spite of the obvious limitations that monochrome photography and processing present.

    MPEG artefacts were not seen in this transfer, in spite of the fact that the disc appears to have been rather tightly compressed, with the transfer rate constantly hovering around five megabits a second. Film-to-video artefacts consisted of some mild aliasing in blinds and prison bars, but this artefact was well controlled in spite of how noticeable it seemed to be when present. Film artefacts consisted of some small flecks on the negative, with some hairs and lines in historical footage of the protests against Carter's imprisonment, but these were very minor and very occasional. This would be a reference quality transfer if not for the occasional problem with aliasing, which is something of a pity, but only the fussiest of viewers will have any complaints.

    This disc is presented in the RSDL format, with the layer change taking place at 80:08. The layer change is noticeable, but it is only a mild interruption to the flow of the film.


    The audio transfer can be described as being remarkable in spite of its subtlety, with little to complain about for those who don't have unrealistic expectations. There are three soundtracks, all of which are in English. The first soundtrack is the original English dialogue in Dolby Digital 5.1, the second soundtrack is a Dolby Digital 2.0 surround-encoded downmix, and the third soundtrack is a Director's Commentary in English, which is presented in Dolby Digital 2.0 with surround-encoding. I listened to the Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack and the Director's Commentary.

    The dialogue is clear and easy to understand at all times, although there are times when a little effort is required to make out exactly what is being said. This is a fault of the way the actors spoke, which was in character, more than the transfer. There were no apparent problems with audio sync.

    The score music in this film is credited to Christopher Young, with one G. Marq Roswell being credited as the "music supervisor". Some contemporary music appears, most notably from Bob Dylan, but this enhances the film rather than detracts from it, as is usually the case when films resort to the use of contemporary music. The score music helps to create an appropriate feel to the darker moments of the film, but is otherwise silent, or so far from being noticeable as to make no difference.

    The surround presence in this film can be described as subtle, but it easily rivals the biggest action films as far as immersion is concerned. The surround channels are used to support the music and all sorts of ambient sound effects, and they do so without ever collapsing into the monophonic dialogue sequences that are so common to films about boxers. Considering that ninety-five percent of the film consists of dialogue, this represents excellent use of the surround channels, with a flashback to Carter leaving the bar at 97:34 providing an excellent example of ambient sound drawing the viewer into the film. This is clearly a film that is meant to be experienced with a wide soundstage, and the transfer is impeccable in this regard.

    The subwoofer was used intermittently to support the music and the few minutes of action sequences that exist in the film. Although the subwoofer was not used often, it was used effectively without calling attention to itself, which is commendable in light of the way that the film uses lower frequencies.


    This is an excellent selection of extras, both in quantity and in presentation.


    The main menu has some animation, and is 16x9 Enhanced with Dolby Digital 2.0 audio. The other menus are also 16x9 Enhanced, and the scene selection menu is also animated with Dolby Digital 2.0 audio. The animations are nothing to get excited about, but the scene selection animations play a small piece of the highlighted scene, which is a nice touch in spite of the pauses.

Commentary - Norman Jewison (Director)

    The director's commentary is presented in Dolby Digital 2.0 surround-encoded audio, with the movie's soundtrack taking over during pauses, which are a little frequent. This commentary is much better than the one for Rollerball, in which Norman basically sounded like he was speaking out of his nose the whole time. This is faint praise, however, as it is still not very engaging.

Theatrical Trailer (2:21)

    Presented in an aspect ratio of 1.85:1, with 16x9 enhancement and Dolby Digital 2.0 surround-encoded audio, this is an excellent trailer in that it gives the viewer a picture of what the film is about, stirs interest, and doesn't give the whole film away.

Cast & Crew Biographies

    Biographies are presented for director Norman Jewison, as well as actors Denzel Washington, John Hannah, Deborah Kara Unger, Liev Schreiber, and Vicellous Reon Shannon. They are quite comprehensive, but hard to read.

Deleted Scenes (with introductions by Norman Jewison)

    Instead of giving the viewer an opportunity to choose the deleted scenes from a menu, this is presented as a featurette. Clocking in at twenty minutes and eighteen seconds, the director introduces each scene and explains the reasons why they were cut from the film. I didn't feel that these scenes added anything to the film, and so could see why they were cut. They are presented in an aspect ratio of 1.78:1, with 16x9 enhancement and Dolby Digital 2.0 sound. The video and audio quality of the deleted scenes leaves something to be desired, but they are quite functional.

Production Notes: A Chronology; The Rubin "Hurricane" Carter Case

    As the title states, this is simply a chronology of the events depicted in the film. Like the cast and crew biographies, they leave something to be desired in the readability stakes.

Featurette - Spotlight On Location

    Clocking in at nineteen minutes and forty-eight seconds, this featurette reveals some insights into the processes by which this film was made. It is presented in an aspect ratio of 1.78:1, with 16x9 enhancement and Dolby Digital 2.0 sound.

R4 vs R1

    The Region 4 version of this disc misses out on;     According to the review I have read, the theatrical trailer on the Region 1 disc has Dolby Digital 5.1 sound, but it is not 16x9 Enhanced. Region 4 is the winner by a nose.


    The Hurricane is a slow, ponderous, worth-watching-once film, presented on an excellent DVD.

    The video quality is excellent.

    The audio quality is excellent.

    The extras have the right balance between quality and quantity.

Ratings (out of 5)

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© Dean McIntosh (my bio sucks... read it anyway)
August 23, 2000 
Review Equipment
DVD Grundig GDV 100 D, using composite output; Toshiba SD-2109, using S-video output
Display Panasonic TC-29R20 (68 cm), 4:3 mode, using composite input; Samsung CS-823AMF (80 cm), 16:9 mode/4:3 mode, using composite and S-video inputs
Audio Decoder Built In (Amplifier)
Amplification Sony STR-DE835
Speakers Panasonic S-J1500D Front Speakers, Philips PH931SSS Rear Speakers, Philips FB206WC Centre Speaker, JBL Digital 10 Subwoofer